(Last night I emailed Duana about the Will & Jaden Smith Vulture interview. I heard from her an hour later:
OH MY GOD.
Like I'm not even through it and I only woke up because Libby barked and I checked email on phone and could not even get through it before I had to put it down to email you.
Like it's a f-cking Brechtian play. I am RIVETED. I want everything and nothing to do with these people. I want to know what kind of mania makes you quote Joe Kennedy's parenting philosophy to an entertainment magazine. I would read this for hours.
Needless to say, Duana has some thoughts. See below.)
Let’s just for example say that the Dean of the Faculty of Celebrity Studies hires me to work in her department someday. I think there could be an entire course on The Interview.
Of course, every profile or piece is based on an interview, but there are all different kinds. Usually, you’re not supposed to feel like the subject is being asked questions, or if you are, as per Interview Magazine, it’s because the interviewer is as interesting as the interviewee.
So with that in mind, please read the following Will and Jaden Smith interview in its entirety.
First let’s give thanks to Vulture for consistently being Vulture, and giving us these gems. Next, let’s jump into our investigation of this interview…
I know. I couldn’t really process it either. I couldn’t think of a way to describe this, although I certainly hope it is adopted as an acting exercise. I would really enjoy watching people do scenes based on this interview. Because you know it wasn’t boring, the two of them just sitting at a table. I bet there was movement and smiling.
What gets me the most out of a whole lot of “gets me”s is that there is a real lack of a parent-child dynamic here. A little bit in terms of “Don’t talk to my dad, he’ll bore you to death” (which sounds totally accurate, both for teens in general and for my perception of Will Smith) and of Will’s overriding any comment Jaden might make about the Kardashians but mostly I’m struck by the whole “mutual respect” angle.
Not totally sure I’m down with it.
Yeah, sure, I’m draconian and nobody who loves their kids would ever be an authoritarian over them and blah blah. But I do kind of have a vibe that someone who checks his own bank statements at 14 (what?!) will have nothing to rebel against. Is that accurate? How can you be your own person when you are so literally grown in your parents’ image? Or am I overthinking it?
There are way too many gems here to investigate individually, but let’s look at just a few:
Even though we’ve looked at this already, let’s just take a moment to digest this.
What would you buy?
Jaden: I have four [Cartier] rings I’m not wearing today. I haven’t bought anything that expensive in a really long time. The only thing I buy is, like, food and skateboards.
Will: Once he started approving his own bank statements and credit cards and all, yeah, he changed.
And then of course there’s this:
In the movie, Jaden, your character calls his dad “Sir.” Is that the dynamic with you guys?
Jaden: In real life, no. It’s like how it is right now.
How is it right now?
Jaden: It’s hard for me to explain because it’s so normal to me. It’s like asking, “So, Jaden, how do you breathe?” He’s, like, really just cool. He lets us have our freedom as long as we can control our freedom.
“So Jaden, how do you breathe?” I can’t get over this kid. I really can’t.
I mean, maybe preternatural confidence at fourteen is something the rest of us can only wish for. And for all I found this interview weird and way too buddy-esque and not based in what looks like a parent-child relationship, it still felt honest(ish). Will admits he pushes his kids to do something (invoking Joe Kennedy, of all people) and freely reports (though not for the first time) that Willow was the one who backed away from the level of fame she was approaching.
Everything is strategic, so what does this side-by-side buddy interview do for us?
It keeps Will Smith young. If he’s free and easy and not that parental with his 14 year old, how old can he be, really? It keeps you interested enough in the relationship to see how it plays out in the movie – that is, if you cared to begin with – and it creates a new franchise: “The Transparent Smiths. Ask us anything!”
I still think they might be robots, and that has nothing to do with any alleged religion – though I thought it was interesting how quickly that topic was brought up and then dismissed. I am more interested/fascinated/curiously horrified by them than I was 24 hours ago, which means that they have won, I have lost, and I’m not sure I’m mad about it.